The practice of crowdtesting has taken on greater importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, for good reason
Entering 2020, digital transformation projects and initiatives dominated tech spending for most companies. But, between a global pandemic and fiscal uncertainty around the world, spending must be shrinking, right?
If anything, the pandemic has created a sense of urgency for many companies, accelerating digital transformation in organizations. According to June data from TEKsystems, 56% of digital experience leaders—companies with mature digital transformation strategies—have increased spending on digital transformation. Remarkably, more than one-third of digital experience laggards—those that have historically had limited digital transformation initiatives in place—also increased spending on digital transformation projects.
The rush can be attributed to COVID-19. For businesses, it has changed the future of work. Distributed workforces are nothing new, but very few companies were prepared to deal with a fully distributed model in which all employees are working remotely. The pandemic has changed buyer behaviors, too. In lieu of malls and brick-and-mortar stores, people have turned to e-commerce sites for the bulk of their shopping. Legacy companies, such as Pepsi, for example, are building direct-to-consumer e-commerce sites in response to the evolving market dynamics.
Digital is now the primary means of communication for businesses. Digital quality is no longer a niche issue for the application and DevOps teams; it is a strategic business imperative in the C-Suite.
Apps Everywhere, At All Times
Apps need to be tested by real users, on every device, network and operating system, across the globe and at all times. The typical workday used to be 9 to 5, but that’s no longer the case. With most workforces now remote, the days are longer and the diversions greater (yes, I’m looking at you, juggling Zoom calls and your daughter’s remote learning plan at school). Customers, too, have higher demands for the technology they use. There can be no downtime; downtime means customers will look for alternatives, becoming ex-customers and resulting in lost revenues.
In today’s extremely fragmented device landscape, QA teams face increasing difficulties in keeping up with the myriad device/OS combinations they need to test on. For obvious reasons, purchasing and maintaining a nearly endless pool of devices is not an option—not only is it too expensive but it’s also time-consuming and harms the team’s productivity.
Beyond logistics, QA teams must collect data from real-world testing to make informed decisions. No matter how many test cycles are run, QA teams can’t uncover all unexpected bugs and edge cases unless they include in-the-wild testing in their strategy.
To test anything related to hardware in an efficient manner, leveraging a community of remote testers is the best way to obtain reliable results without burdening internal QA resources, generating disproportionate costs or missing out on important use cases.
Crowdtesting Replaces Offshoring as the De Facto Way to Test Software
With a market greater than $50 billion in India alone, there is no denying the offshoring model worked. But, the pandemic exposed pre-existing cracks in the model, causing many businesses and entire industries to regroup, re-evaluate and find new ways to accomplish tasks that just a few months prior would have been routine.
When the pandemic hit, the supply chain broke. Testing and product development facilities built on product teams working collaboratively in close proximity struggled to keep up with the most basic needs of their customers. Outsourcing companies and their employees lacked the infrastructure to work remotely, negatively impacting the business continuity of their clients.
This new reality leaves companies that are used to the offshoring model for testing and QA with one big question: what is the best way to test software and digital experiences in a post-COVID-19 world?
While crowdtesting has been a factor in application and digital testing for more than a decade, it has taken on increased importance as internal QA teams can no longer maintain business continuity while working remotely and the offshoring model has faltered amid the pandemic.
The reason the crowdtesting model remains a reliable answer even during COVID-19 is that it is always done remotely, via a community of vetted testers who already work in remote environments. This setup allows testing teams to maintain business continuity, while often improving test coverage across devices, operating systems, geographies, demographics and more.
As an example, let’s look at how the Israeli government used crowdtesting to bring its tracing app to the country. The Israeli Ministry of Health developed the app using cellular GPS data to provide alerts on areas with high concentrations of COVID-19 infections. The app is designed to prevent COVID-19 spread by notifying people who were in the vicinity of verified coronavirus carriers. Similarly, healthcare provider K Health has used crowdtesting to help it launch a new COVID-19 diagnostic feature. K Health was already using crowdtesting services prior to the onset of the pandemic to ensure its mobile app functioned properly across all relevant device/OS combinations and timezones but found the scalability and reliability of the model meshed perfectly with the demands on healthcare providers in the new normal. When K Health offered free services to all Louisiana residents, crowdtesters were there to scale testing at a moment’s notice and provide 24/7 test coverage for the K Health app.
It was urgent to get the app out quickly, but it also needed to work properly. Did push notifications go through promptly and to everyone? Would the app work across devices, and in different configurations? Since launching the app in March, the Ministry of Health has been able to leverage continuous crowdtesting to identify dozens of bugs that could have prevented Israelis from using the app or trusting its results.
For example, the testers discovered that the app crashed when it was used in dark mode, and certain situations led to the app showing that it detected data even when data and location services were off. Since this second error was directly related to the main functionality of the app, it represented a very critical bug for the Ministry of Health to fix.
Crowdtesting uses real devices and real people in their daily environments, which accounts for all these variables that are not seen in traditional labs and offshoring facilities. That makes crowdtesting a valuable testing approach even after the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown ends.